PETALING JAYA,Nov 20: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the government to turn to private healthcare facilities in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they remain largely underutilised.

MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said private healthcare facilities could ease the strain on the public healthcare system.

“Since the movement control order in March, the Malaysian healthcare response has been largely led by government healthcare facilities.

“There were peak pandemic times when government facilities were stretched to the maximum in certain hospitals or areas. Assistance or donations were extended by the public, NGOs and concerned citizens,” he said in a statement today.

Subramaniam said the private healthcare sector saw a downward trend in the number of patients. Lockdown rules, fear of contracting Covid-19, and affordability were among the major reasons for this decline.

Many clinics and private hospitals, he said, reported fewer patients, causing an income reduction of between 70% and 80% and threatening their sustainability.

“Many senior doctors with their wealth of experience are also contemplating closing or retirement. It is estimated that around 200 clinics nationwide will close by the year-end,” he said.

Subramaniam warned that a loss in private sector doctors and clinics would lead to more congestion at government facilities, adding additional strain to its funding and also human resources.

He also warned that overcrowded public facilities would lead to a compromise in the quality of patient care and medical access.

He called on the government to give the private healthcare sector tax exemptions and grants in the recovery phase of the pandemic, particularly targeted at sustaining primary care.

He also said certain services, such as antenatal care or follow-ups on non-communicable disease patients, could be outsourced from public hospitals to the private sector to avoid congestion.

“MMA believes the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing services and stimulus investments into private healthcare will yield many benefits in expanding healthcare access to all.

“The public and private healthcare sectors need to be in a symbiotic relationship if the nation is to be offered the most effective healthcare for all to contain the pandemic and beyond,” he said.


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